Morthland men and women split final exhibitions


The Morthland College men and women basketball teams closed out their exhibition schedules this evening with the Morthland men winning on the road against the McKendree JV team, 99-86, while the Lady Patriots fell at home to Southeastern Illinois College, 95-60.

Will Carmickle lead the way for the Morthland men with 37 points and 19 rebounds, while Josh Overturf added 13 points and 9 rebounds.

The Lady Patriots could not contain SIC guard Anna Best who exploded for 38 points in the midst of breaking the school record for three-pointer in a game with nine.

The Morthland women had four players in double digits led by Shayly Wilce (22), Jade Vaughn (15), and newcomer Kristen Vincent chipped in 12 points in her second game as a Patriot. Junior Ashley Slack recorded 11 points and 17 rebounds to record her first double double of the year.

“We played with a lot of effort and executed the best we have all year tonight,” said head coach Ray Lewis. “Everyone played hard and played pretty good team basketball.”

The Morthland men and women will travel to Springfield, Ill. to take on Benedictine College Thursday. The women will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. and the men will hit the court at 7:30 p.m.

Logan men win thriller

By JOHN D. HOMAN, Logan Media Services

Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

While Mandela was not referencing a sporting event, his words certainly fit the situation at hand Wednesday night in Robinson as the John A. Logan College men’s basketball team overcame a 21-point second-half deficit to defeat Lincoln Trail, 72-68.

Vols’ freshman guard DeVaughn Johnson penetrates the lane in game action Wednesday. Johnson finished with four points. (Logan Media Services)

Erasing a 21-point deficit seemed like an impossible task, especially on the road. But this Vols’ team refused to lose. Led by freshman forwards James Williams and Jay Johnson, Logan slowly began hacking away at the point spread.

By the 12-minute mark, Logan had pulled to within seven at 56-49. At 8:22, the Vols were within one at 56-55 following a pair of free tosses by Julian Hernandez. And with 6:46 to play, the Vols took the lead at 57-56 on a tip-in basket by Johnson.

The host Statesmen valiantly tried to restore order with a basket by Jesse Tesmer at 58-57, but JALC freshman forward Sondell Conner answered with a stickback. A made shot in the lane from freshman transfer Connor Wheeler gave the visitors a three-point lead at 61-58.

Tesmer responded again with a tip-in to trim the Logan lead to one. The Vols, however, would not relinquish the lead again, hitting just enough free throws late to secure the victory.

“It was an unbelievable effort,” said Vols first-year head coach Kyle Smithpeters. “We very easily could have stopped playing when we got down 21, but we didn’t. We kept battling and that’s what I really like about this group of kids. Despite being a young team, we fought back hard. That’s what we preach to them every day in practice – not to give up because sometimes things aren’t going to go your way.”

Williams, who was the team’s second-half spark with nine of his 11 points, said his mindset was simple – to keep playing hard.

“I appreciate the fact that my coaches and teammates trust me, so I want to reward them by playing as hard as I can to help us win,” he said. “Tonight was tough. We were down 21 and had to dig ourselves out of that hole. Fortunately, we kept our composure and ended up getting the ‘W.’”

Sophomore post player Aaron Adeoye led the Vols in scoring with 17 points. Jay Johnson checked in with 14. Williams was the only other Logan player in double digits with 13. Wheeler and Hernandez contributed seven each. Conner finished with six, including a thunderous first-half dunk. DeVaughn Johnson netted four and Michael Schmidt and Pierre House had two.

Caleb Begle led the Statesmen with 30 points. He was 6-of-12 from long range, including five of his first six.

The Vols made 28-of-59 shots, but were only 1-of-12 from beyond the three-point arc. Logan owned the boards to the tune of 44-to-28 with Jay Johnson tops with 12 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end. Conner had eight rebounds. Wheeler led in assists with eight.

It was Conner who was assigned to Begle in the second half and the 6-foot-5 Chicago native used his size and wingspan to shut down Lincoln Trail’s top shooter. Begle only connected on two of his last 10 shots.

Now 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the GRAC, the Vols return home Saturday to take on undefeated Shawnee in a 3 p.m. match.

Desmar Jackson lifts Saluki Men’s Basketball past Fresno State, 57-54


With 12 seconds left in a tie ballgame, Desmar Jackson launched an off-balance 3-pointer that caught nothing but nylon as the shot clock expired, giving Southern Illinois a 57-54 victory over Fresno State on Wednesday.

The Salukis (4-1) sent a crowd of 5,409 — the largest since the Creighton game in 2011 — home with smiles on their faces as the team is off to its best start since 2006.

“I’m really proud of the effort our fans made and proud of the effort our players made,” said SIU head coach Barry Hinson. “More importantly, I’m really happy for you.”

Two players carried the Salukis on their backs. Jackson finished with a career-high 25 points and made 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while Jeff Early had his second-career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“Jackson was tough all night and made plays when he had to down the stretch,” said Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry. “I give him a lot of credit. He had an answer all night at the end of the shot clock.”

The Salukis led by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Bulldogs (3-3) rallied to take a 52-50 lead on a driving layup by Tyler Johnson with 2:22 remaining. Neither team led by more than one point thereafter, until Jackson hit his 3-pointer.

“(Desmar) has an incredible offensive pace, which absolutely drives me nuts,” Hinson said. “He’s slow and methodical. No one rushes him. It’s pretty good at a moment like that, that you have that pace.”

The Wyoming transfer, who sat out last season, has had up-and-down performances so far this year and entered the game shooting 37 percent from the field. Hinson said he wasn’t worried about the junior guard’s offense, however.

“I told him before the game started, you have one minute, maybe 30 seconds, if you come out and don’t get in a stance and don’t guard, you’re coming immediately out of the game,” Hinson said. “I think we’re going to let him play the next game.”

Southern’s defense set the tone early by holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the first seven minutes of the contest and without a field goal until Kevin Olekaibe made a 3-pointer with 9:11 to go in the first half. The problem for SIU was that it struggled nearly as much on offense, converting just one field goal during a six-minute span of the first half. Jackson finally took over with a flurry of late baskets, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer just before the half.

The victory was all the more remarkable considering Hinson threw his entire team out of practice on Tuesday after just 10 minutes.

“I felt like we took it for granted,” he explained. “I told our players today at practice, how we can ever take for granted the opportunity to run out there and play basketball blows my mind. I asked them, do you want to do it your way or do you want to do it our way? Thank goodness they wanted to do it our way.”

A week after challenging Saluki fans to turn out in large numbers for tonight’s game, Hinson was effusive in his praise for the fans.

“It was really more of a plea than anything — could you come help us?” he said. “For the 5,400 people today that came and watched us play, I can’t thank you enough. Our players were so excited. They came running in the locker room after shoot-around and said, ‘Coach, there’s people in the stands.'”

“There’s no chance we win that game tonight unless they’re here. It was really special — thank you.”

Saint Louis hands Saluki Men’s Basketball its first loss, 61-51


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Saint Louis administered a dose of reality to unbeaten Southern Illinois on Saturday night at Chaifetz Arena, handing the Salukis a 61-51 defeat.

The Billikens (3-2) led the entire game and by as many as 17 points before a late flurry by the Salukis (3-1) in the final two minutes cut the final deficit to 10.

Dantiel Daniels scored 12 points in the second half for SIU.

After winning its first three games against lesser opponents by an average of 24 points, SIU head coach Barry Hinson said his team found SLU more problematic.

“They are very unique — their bigs play like guards, and their guards play like drivers who are more comfortable inside the arc,” Hinson said.

SIU started a lineup with no player taller than 6-foot-5, but the size disadvantage didn’t hurt Southern in the paint, as it won the rebound battle, 36-28. Instead, the Salukis had trouble guarding 6-foot-11 center Rob Loe and 6-foot-8 forward Cody Ellis on the perimeter. Those two combined to make 6-of-9 shots from 3-point range. Loe made all three of his tries from downtown and finished with 12 points.

“We have some major focus problems,” Hinson said of his defense. “You look at what Loe and Ellis did tonight, I promise you, we had big circles around their names that they like to step out and shoot the three, and I think Loe is going to send (Saluki forward) Davante Drinkard a Christmas card.”

Southern’s offense was its downfall in the first half, as it shot just 24 percent from the field. The Salukis trailed, 28-17, at the half, and guard Jeff Early had 11 of his team’s points. For the fourth-straight game, he finished as the team’s top scorer, totaling 15 on the night.

There were bright spots for SIU in the second half. Forward Dantiel Daniels, who has been nursing a pulled groin, got untracked and scored all 12 of his points in the final 20 minutes. Southern shot 50 percent in the second half, but couldn’t make a game of it, because SLU shot 55 percent in the half.

“They were switching defenses so much,” said Saint Louis head coach Jim Crews. “They were playing a triangle-and-two, 2-3 zone, they were playing man-to-man, switching man-to-man. They played four different defenses against us.”

The Salukis have been able to neutralize their size disadvantage this season by using superior speed in the open floor. They entered the game with 50 transition points on the season, but could only pick up six against the disciplined Billikens.

“We’re small but were pesky,” Hinson noted. “We’re going to have to play that way.”

Both teams played short-handed. SIU was without starting forward Antonio Bryer and reserve guard Josh Swan, while SLU was short three players, including its top scorer, due to injury.

“It’s the next guy up — the season is long,” Crews said. “As much as I believe in the process, you still get a little antsy to get the process moving quicker.”

The Salukis never made a serious run in the game, in part because they fell behind quickly, 15-4. Hinson said he took responsibility for the team’s slow start.

“I told them part of this is on me — the first half we were stagnant, and the second half we did some things better,” he said. “The most encouraging thing is we didn’t quit.”

Morthland College men play first-ever home basketball game tonight

The Morthland College Patriots men’s basketball team will play the school’s first-ever home game tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Max Morris Gymnasium in West Frankfort.

The game is part of the four-team Doctors Classic exhibition tournament being held in West Frankfort this weekend. Here’s the full tournament schedule:

Friday, Nov. 16

  • 7:30 p.m. – McKendree JV vs. Webster JV
  • 9:30 p.m. – Morthland vs. Greenville JV

Saturday, Nov. 17

  • 6 p.m. – Greenville JV vs. McKendree JV
  • 8 p.m. – Morthland vs. Webster JV

Admission is free for Morthland College students, faculty and staff, and $5 for the public.

Area doctors Dr. Kent Herron, Dr. Tim Morthland, Dr. Dennon W. Davis, Dr. Norman Chiou, Dr. Rodney Herrin and Dr. Don Griffin are sponsoring the tournament.


Early’s 27 points lead Saluki Men’s Basketball past New Orleans

By Tom Weber

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Perhaps the scheduled burial of Saluki Basketball is premature.

Picked to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, Southern Illinois opened its regular season with a dominating 72-55 win at New Orleans on Monday night, christening the Barry Hinson era with a road victory.


Jeff Early

Jeff Early scored a career-high 27 points, and the Salukis (1-0) demonstrated superior speed and athleticism in an entertaining, if sometimes ragged, up-tempo game.

With little in the way of front-court size, SIU’s formula for success this year — at least until Dantiel Daniels returns from injury — will be to utilize its quickness as much as possible. Southern swiped the ball on defense 13 times and scored 27 points off of turnovers, including 18 points in transition.

A full-court battle played into the hands of the explosive Early, who slashed and dashed to the basket, surpassing his previous career-best of 18 points. He added a career-high 12 rebounds to boot.

Playing the power forward position, the 6-foot-1 Early was a force on both ends of the court, diving for loose balls, taking four charges and holding UNO leading scorer Lovell Cook to nine points.

“I can’t remember a player dominating a game single-handedly as much as Jeff did tonight,” Hinson said. “Everyone has been wanting to know about that hybrid (forward) spot. How can Jeff Early play in that spot and be effective? Tonight, you saw how he can be effective.”

The Salukis took control from the opening tip, scoring the first 11 points and leading 26-6 after a breakaway dunk by Early at the 11:28 mark.

The Privateers (1-1), a program that was nearly washed away by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is back on its feet and playing a mostly Division I schedule this season. Yet they had no answer for Southern’s quickness. They committed 27 turnovers and were harassed into shooting 35 percent from the field.

SIU led by 16 at halftime and by as many as 24 in the second half. UNO came as close as 13 points on four occasions in the final 10 minutes, but never seriously threatened a comeback.

In addition to Early’s career night, Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson scored 17 points in his first game in nearly two years. Forward Antonio Bryer, making his first career start, made all four of his field goal attempts and finished with a career-best eight points.

To be sure, SIU has areas for improvement. Its 28 turnovers were the most since committing 29 at Tulsa on Jan. 2, 1999. Southern was also 1-of-8 from the 3-point line and committed 25 personal fouls.

None of those stats could overcome the good feeling generated by a victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak and eight-game road losing streak dating back to last season.

“The best moment was walking into the locker room and seeing the faces of the kids,” Hinson said. “This program has taken a lot of bump, and we’re going to take some bumps this year, but to go on the road and win by the margin we did tonight, and to basically dominate every category statistically, I’m really proud of our guys.”

“I think I’ll resign right now as the only undefeated coach in school history,” Hinson joked.

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